Southern California has endured a series of moderate earthquakes in the past several weeks, the first of which occurred along a little-known fault beneath the Santa Monica Mountains that had never experienced such a strong tremor since scientists began measuring it. Now, experts tell the Associated Press, there is a danger that a large, 7.5 magnitude quake along a fault discovered in 1999 could cause catastrophic damage in the area.
The fault, known as the Puente Hills fault,was responsible for a 5.1-magnitude tremor over the weekend. It is less well known than the San Andreas fault, and runs horizontally throughout a densely populated region of the area, under neighborhoods with older, concrete buildings that could collapse in a serious earthquake.
According to the AP: “The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that such a quake along the Puente Hills fault could kill 3,000 to 18,000 people and cause up to $250 billion in damage. In contrast, a larger magnitude 8 quake along the San Andreas would cause an estimated 1,800 deaths.”